Literary Tourism - International - September 2011
Literary tourism is a niche market and an offshoot of cultural tourism, itself also a niche market. Cultural tourism, as its name suggests, encompasses the history, religion, lifestyle and creative aspects of a country, city or region, and is growing rapidly.
Research from the Paris-based Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development (a division of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – the OECD) shows that around the world, cultural tourism is one of the fastest-developing sectors of the travel industry. Indeed, tourist boards (and other tourism entities) are increasingly using culture as a lure for marketing their destinations. By highlighting their unique cultural offerings they are appealing to travellers interested in the kinds of activities and attractions (arts festivals, musical events, heritage sites and the like) that offer a glimpse into the lifestyles of the locals – past and present.
By promoting their cultural offerings, destinations are able to distinguish themselves from the competition and attract tourists with a specific interest or hobby. From a demographic point of view, it is a successful strategy. The populations of Europe and North America, for example, are ageing. Older people, who are no longer in the workforce or working only part time, generally have more time than younger ones to pursue their favourite activity.
Literary tourism appeals to this older demographic (though not exclusively) and, of course, to people who are avid readers. It encompasses many elements of the creative process – the lives of authors, playwrights and poets, their characters (fictional or real), the destination(s) where the action unfolds, the places the literary figures were born and/or died, bookstores, literary festivals, book fairs (aimed at the publishing industry) and tours themed around best-selling books and other literary works.
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